Joseph Cotten - Unsung Movie Great

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by MDFrench, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. Hey all,

    I finally got around to watching Tora Tora Tora this evening. I know, I know, 35 years late, but I'm getting around to all of them as fast as I can. Great flick of course. Anyway, I'm watching the opening credits and ol' Joseph Cotten's name pops up and suddenly there he is playing Stimson. Coincidental to say the least because I have recently become very aware and intrigued by Cotten's discrete but important place in movie history.

    When people talk of the Golden Era actors, you always hear of Wayne, Grant, Gable, Bogart, Stewart, Cagney, and Flynn. However, I recently came to the conclusion that Cotten, either wittingly or unwittingly, placed himself in a filmography that is not only prestigious, but in films that will forever be viewed and studied not only as classics, but filmmaking landmarks. He truly is the unsung hero of cinema. Here's just a sampling of his appearances off the top of my head - most of them of HIGH quality and very different from the norms of their times, ALL of them thought-provoking.

    Citizen Kane
    The Magnificent Ambersons
    Shadow of a Doubt
    Duel In the Sun
    Gaslight
    The Third Man
    Niagara - (the only film where Marilyn Monroe wasn't a ditz)
    Touch of Evil
    Tora Tora Tora
    Soylent Green

    Cotten is like the Johnny Depp of his period. A penchant for working with a signature director (Cotten to Welles, Depp to Burton) and picking projects that aren't always mainstream or even necessarily marketable, but that provide opportunities for great performances in interesting roles.

    The man, the myth, the legend, and in my personal Hall of Fame - COTTEN:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Mycroft

    Mycroft One Too Many

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    Thanks for infoming me about him, I never heard of him, and I will now watch out for him. Is he good at his roles?
     
  3. Mycroft

    Mycroft One Too Many

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    I did some reasearch and found he was an amatur actor and adman before being a full time actor, also a personal friend of Orson Wells. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001072/
     
  4. Sergei

    Sergei Gone Home

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    I like the accessorizing he did with those 3 torpedo's. :) They look like my favorites, Montey #2's!
     
  5. JenLyn

    JenLyn New in Town

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    I saw two of his other movies, Since You Went Away (a great homefront during WWII flick also starring Claudette Colbert) and Portrait of Jennie. He really is an unsung great actor!

    Another story - I believe I have it correct, if not please let me know - is how he took on Hedda Hopper. She had printed in her column that he was having an affair with a co-star. He denied it; said he was very devoted to his wife and would Hedda please quit printing such lies. She didn't, and the next time he saw her at some Hollywood gathering, he went right up to her and kicked her in the behind! It took a lot of guts to do that - at that time, Hedda, as well as Louella, could make or break a career. Given the type of stuff they frequently wrote about the stars, I'm sure Joseph Cotten was cheered by many a Hollywood actor for doing that - he was the only one with guts to do it!
     
  6. MyCroft,

    Jen' is correct. He is a GREAT actor - wholly believable and convincing without the typical "theatrical" style of acting commonplace at the time. He seems contemporary in style, making for an interesting juxtaposition with the age of the films he is in.

    A truly captivating presence on screen.

    Mike
     
  7. Mycroft

    Mycroft One Too Many

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    I agree with you both, from what you both say.
     
  8. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Joseph Cotton

    I believe he is one of the best actors, and overlooked, of all time. He was in Hitchcock's favorite film "Shadow of a Doubt" made in the 40's. His performance in this film is nothing short of masterful. You have to really enjoy the entire film to see his work. His other films, such as :
    Tora Tora Tora 1970
    Niagra 1953
    The Third Man 1948
    Portrait of Jeannie 1948
    The Farmers Daughter 1947
    Duel in the Sun 1946
    Since you Went Away 1944
    Gaslight 1944
    Magnificent Ambersons 1942
    Citizen Kane 1941

    These are wonderful films, I have seen them all. Citizen Kane is AFI's best film of the top 100 ever!
     
  9. imoldfashioned

    imoldfashioned Call Me a Cab

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    I'm a huge fan of Joseph Cotten too, that was a lovely summary of what makes him great. Among his many talents he's especially wonderful when he's listening to another actor. His autobiography was a good read. I've had a crush on him since high school.
     
  10. The Reno Kid

    The Reno Kid A-List Customer

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    He was one of the greats.

    I especially liked him in Since You Went Away. I also thought he was brilliant in Shadow of a Doubt, even though I'm not a big Hitchcock fan. Another golden age actor (actress, actually) that I think is hugely underappreciated is Jean Arthur (although she was pretty big to her contemporaries).
     
  11. Niagara is a great, great movie. One of nmy favourites.

    Adn Cotten is a fine actor. Don't know how unsung, though ...

    bk
     
  12. Hondo

    Hondo One Too Many

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    Unsung?

    Thanks for keeping his spirit alive, for some of us older folks (and you know who you are) he isn’t that forgotten, some other film credits:

    Howard Hughes “Duel in the Sun” with Gregory Peck and who can forget Jules Verne, “From the Earth to the Moon” :eusa_clap
    Thanks
     
  13. FredDairy

    FredDairy Familiar Face

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    This is strange my girlfriend and I just watched Shadow of a Doubt and I'll just confirm everything said, he was a great actor.

    If you haven't seen this movie I'd recommend it!
     
  14. "Oh I wish I was in the land of Cotten ..."

    .
     
  15. DanielJones

    DanielJones I'll Lock Up

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    Personally I think that 'Shadow of a Doubt' was one of his best works. You know it's him but you still don't want it to be him. Great work.

    Cheers!

    Dan
     
  16. The Wolf

    The Wolf Call Me a Cab

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    I've been a big fan, too.
    He can play an everyman yet seem a little more impressive. Great voice too.
    He reminds me of another great of the time, Joel McRae.

    Sincerely,
    The Wolf
     
  17. HistWardrobe

    HistWardrobe Vendor

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    Joseph Cotten

    Amen to all that has been said! And he was a Virginian too (from Petersburg - he's buried in Blandford Cemetery).
     
  18. Lincsong

    Lincsong I'll Lock Up

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    It's interesting that Citizen Kane was done at the time with all unknown actors and to many that was their first time in front of a camera. They say you only have one time to make a good first impression, :eusa_clap Joseph Cotten, and all the actors made GREAT first impressions.:eusa_clap
     
  19. Until last year, there was a thrift store in L.A. called the "Cinema Glamour Shop". Founded by actress Mary Pickford in the 1920s, its profits went to nursing homes for old actors. Golden Era movie stars used to donate their clothes to this store -- it was not uncommon to find dress shirts made for David Niven, or a tuxedo owned by Burt Lancaster.

    About a year after Joseph Cotten passed away, back in the '90s, I went to the store and found a bespoke English suit made for Mr. Cotten himself. Turns out that the actor was a dandy: the blue pinstripe, worsted wool suit had a double-breasted waistcoat with peak lapels, and very high-waisted trousers (no belt loops) with inverted pleats and a fishtail back with a buckle strap (but no back pockets to "ruin the line"). The jacket was a two-button single-breasted, with notched lapels. Working buttonholes on the sleeve cuffs. All hand-tailored in London in 1980, though the style was pure 1930s. The size: about a 42 Long. Turns out that Joseph Cotten was tall.

    The suit was too big for me, so I sold it at the Vintage Fashion Expo in Santa Monica, California, in 1998. Wish I'd taken photos of it!


    .
     
  20. The Wolf

    The Wolf Call Me a Cab

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    a quiz

    What do Joseph Cotten, William Powell and Cary Grant have in common?
    Besides being leading men of the Golden Era.

    Sincerely,
    The Wolf
     

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